What are the data protection implications of homeworking?
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) announce new guidance in light of coronavirus.
The ICO is providing new guidance to organisations regarding data protection and coronavirus, which can be accessed here: https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/data-protection-and-coronavirus/
The ICO has stated the following:
“Data protection is not a barrier to increased and different types of homeworking. During the pandemic, staff may work from home more frequently than usual and they can use their own device or communications equipment. Data protection law doesn’t prevent that, but you’ll need to consider the same kinds of security measures for homeworking that you’d use in normal circumstances.”
Whether you work from home or in the office, you still need to comply with data protection laws. While you need to process personal data with the same care you use in the office, the home working environment throws up specific data protection concerns particularly in respect of data security. You should make sure you have a home working policy which deals with data protection and these data security issues.
Organisations must ensure that, for staff who can work from home, their obligations in respect of processing personal data are clearly communicated. Organisations may already have a home working policy – if this is the case, then this should be reviewed to ensure it remains relevant and up-to-date for practices during this pandemic.
This will depend on the particular facts and the employee’s circumstances but an employee should co-operate with the employer so far as is necessary to enable compliance with any statutory duty or requirement relating to health and safety.
In addition, conduct outside of work can result in an employee’s dismissal if the conduct pertains to the employment relationship. If an employee breaches the lockdown rules and it affects their ability to work, such as it being no longer safe for them to attend work, or the reputation of the employer, these may be grounds for disciplinary action and subsequent dismissal.
This will be dependent upon the how the leasehold structure is set up for each relevant building, but it may be the local authority. We would be happy to provide further advice in relation to specific buildings if you contact us separately with the relevant details and documents.
- The Pensions Regulator has published regularly-updated guidance for employers.
- It will take “a proportionate and risk-based approach towards enforcement decisions … with the aim of supporting both employers and savers”. In other words, the law remains the same, but the Regulator will show restraint in enforcement against breaches.
The Government guidance does not require any business to close except some non-essential shops and public venues, so in theory, all businesses can continue to occupy and operate from their existing premises. However, government guidance strongly encourages businesses to arrange for everybody able to work from home to do so. The majority of office sector business will fall into this category.
In the industrial sector, the majority of businesses will not be able to operate via home working and will, therefore, need to retain employees on site though in some cases this may be able to be scaled back.
Any tenants continuing to operate from their premises should consider whether or not they need to make any alterations to the premises to facilitate social distancing of employees and whether or not such works would require a consent from the Landlord under the terms of the lease.